We chose this cruise as a way to experience an inside cabin - we had always had a balcony before, but seeing all of the great offers available for insides we thought a two night break would be the ideal way to give it a go, and if we ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a way to experience an inside cabin - we had always had a balcony before, but seeing all of the great offers available for insides we thought a two night break would be the ideal way to give it a go, and if we didn't like it then there was no great loss.
The cabin was spacious and well appointed with shower room. I hear gripes of people who don't like shower curtains as they can stick to you whilst showering - my tip here would be to take some magnets and stick the curtain to the edge of the cubicle. Problem solved. My only gripe with the cabin would be that with it being an inside it perhaps would be beneficial to show the view from the bridge or other webcam on a tv channel so that it's possible to see the weather.
Embarkation was very quick - we got the train from Birmingham to Southampton and enjoyed a champagne picnic on the way. A short transfer to the Mayflower terminal (which cost £4.00) and we were in the queue to board.
We dropped off our luggage and were onboard within about half an hour. I must say this is probably the exception and not the norm. According to the person who checked us in there were only 150 guests changing over on this particular day. That, coupled with a late departure, would explain why the terminal building was so empty.
We took our hand luggage to the cabin and proceeded to the Main Dining Room for lunch. A delicious meal consisting of appetizer, soup, salad, main and dessert was coupled with some very enjoyable chardonnay which comes with the Allegrissimo package. I did note that compared to other sailings there was no 'always available' selection and a sandwich option had been added. It seemed apparent that the menu had been tweaked to favour the majority of German passengers, which is absolutely understandable.
The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the ship and comparing her to her sister ship MSC Fantasia. There is no difference in terms of layout, however the decor seemed darker. My personal taste is for the lighter colours used on Fantasia. The aft bar on the top deck is styled loosely around Antoni Gaudi / Barcelona with bright mosaics. This area was no smoking, when on Fantasia at Christmas smoking was allowed up here. I'm personally glad this has been changed as there is a large smoking area on the deck below with ample tables and chairs.
We attended the muster drill (of course) which was completed quickly and efficiently despite the need to use multiple languages owing to the multi-national guests.
The first evening's entertainment in the theatre was an opera gala, which was very good and accompanied by a string quartet. Obviously not to everyone's taste however there were plenty of other options with many of the bars hosting bands, duos, singers etc. The atrium is a favourite spot of ours and the all so glitzy Steinhoff piano is not to be missed!
We set sail at 8pm and were soon seated for the second sitting of dinner. We had requested first sitting, however we were told there was no availability. MSC does state that requests cannot be guaranteed and perhaps owing to so few passengers changing over this was the reason they were unable to accommodate our wishes. We were on a table that would take eight passengers, however there were only four of us. This was nice as it enabled us to get to know the couple we were dining with and it was easy to have a conversation. I do find that when at a larger table it can be difficult to talk to all guests and get to know them.
After dinner we relaxed with one or two drinks before having an early (ish) night. NB something I hear very often is that you can only have Heineken on the drinks package. If you go to the l'apertivo bar (or Cantina Toscana on Fantasia) you can also have Murphy's or another beer which I cannot remember the name of!.
On both days we took breakfast in the main dining room. I had eggs Benedict with a side order of smoked salmon which was lovely. My partner had salmon and MSC Express, their version of a Full English. The coffee in the dining room isn't the best, so it would be my tip here to get yourself a latte or cappuccino from one of the bars to take in with you :)
We spent the whole of the sea day relaxing and playing games. There were some other activities going on around the ship, a few party games, dance classes, keep fit and arts and crafts. As it was such a short break we just wanted some time together. In the afternoon there was a lecture on our destination, Hamburg, which was very informative. The lady giving the presentation was from Hamburg and showed some of her own photographs and stories, as well as telling us the story of Hamburg. She gave the presentation purely in English and I would presume other slots were available for other languages.
The evening show was 'Simply the Best' which was a selection of famous songs and a bit of dancing. We didn't stay for the whole show.
Dinner consisted of an appetizer (we both had moules mariniers, a salad, pasta and then we both chose duck as main course which was beautifully cooked and presented, plus a selection of desserts was availble - we had fruit owing to eating so much!)
The rest of the evening was then spent in the casino and the other bars sampling some of the wonderful cocktails included with the Allegrissimo package - it's well worth having!
We had a bit of a flutter in the casino, which I can happily report has now been split in to a smoking and no smoking side. The casino is massive and having sailed on Fantasia I often wondered why smoking was allowed all the way through when it is plenty big enough to split in to two areas.
We were woken very early with lots of vibration - it was the bow thrusters pushing us in to port. I don't recall hearing the noise quite so badly in the balcony cabins we have stayed in. Also there must have been some sort of crew passage behind us or something as it was quite noisy during the night - cabin 10019.
We really enjoyed the cruise, but don't think I'd choose an inside again when it's often possible to get a outside or balcony for not much more money. Read Less